Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

Last updated: 2 April 2020.

Following the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) we understand that you may have questions and concerns if your baby was born premature or sick.

We have tried to answer some common questions below and will update this page when more information becomes available.

For information about coronavirus (COVID-19) and how to protect yourself, visit the NHS website. Please do not call your doctor unless you or your baby are very unwell, or you cannot find the answer online.

The latest information from the UK government about staying at home can be found here.

To help keep our services open and running during this time, please consider making a donation to Bliss.

Babies who are currently in the neonatal unit

My baby is currently receiving neonatal care. Will I be allowed to visit them?

Neonatal units are almost certainly limiting who can be on the neonatal unit. At the moment most units are allowing parents access to their baby on the unit as long as they do not have, or are not suspected to have, COVID-19. Current guidance says that only one parent is allowed to visit their baby at one time until further notice.

Parents who have had a positive test for COVID-19 will not be allowed access to their baby on the neonatal unit. Parents who are being screened for COVID-19 will not be allowed access to their baby until a negative test has been confirmed.

People who have the symptoms of COVID-19, and the people they live with, are being asked to self-isolate following these guidelines.

If you are unsure what to do, check online. If you are still unsure, call your neonatal unit. Please do not go to the unit if you have symptoms of COVID-19, or if you are concerned that you might have been in contact with someone who has it.

Policies for allowing parents onto neonatal units may vary between different units, and units might change their policies at short notice as the situation develops. Check with your neonatal unit for the most up to date information.

My baby is currently receiving neonatal care. Will my family and their siblings be able to visit them?

Neonatal units have been advised not to allow other children, including your baby’s brothers and sisters, or other family members to visit.

This may vary between neonatal units, and units might change their policies at short notice as the situation develops.

I am finding the visiting restrictions difficult to manage. How can I find help and support?

We know not being able to be with your baby may be very difficult and upsetting. It can also be very difficult to support siblings and wider family members who are unable to visit.

Your neonatal unit may be able to arrange video contact for you. They will still be able to give you updates on how your baby is, and involve you in decisions. Talk to your neonatal unit about how they can support you if you are not able to be with your baby on the unit.

Remember, we’re here if you need us.

Email hello@bliss.org.uk for emotional support and find more information about supporting your mental health on our website here.

Babies who are recently discharged from the neonatal unit

My baby has recently been discharged from a neonatal unit. Will our follow-up appointments be changed?

The current guidance recommends that telephone follow-up appointments will be used wherever possible as an alternative to visiting a clinic.

The team looking after you and your baby will decide whether your appointments will be changed in this way. The neonatal team will be in close contact with your health visitor and GP during this time.

The healthcare team looking after you and your baby will decide whether your appointments will be changed in this way. Unless you are advised otherwise, you should continue with arranged follow-up appointments.

My baby has recently been discharged from a neonatal unit. Will the care we receive in the community be changed?

The current guidance suggests that NHS services in the community are likely to be affected. This may include services such as visits made by community nursing teams and health visitors.

The current guidance recommends that telephone follow-up appointments will be used wherever possible as an alternative to visiting a clinic. This may also apply to some home visits.

Decisions on any changes will be made by healthcare teams who will consider the needs of individual babies and families, with higher-risk babies, mothers and families being prioritised. If you have any concerns, contact your GP or the neonatal unit for advice.

Please be aware that information about changes to healthcare services may change quickly. We will monitor information and make changes as soon as we can if they are needed.

If you are unsure of what to do, check online. If you are still unsure, speak to a relevant healthcare professional.

Babies who received neonatal care at birth and who are now older

My child has complex medical needs. Are they more at risk of getting COVID-19 or becoming unwell?

As COVID-19 is a new illness, little is known about it. There is currently no evidence about the effect of COVID-19 on children who have complex medical needs.

What we do know is that children with conditions such as chronic lung disease (CLD) have a higher risk of developing other types of infection that can infect the lungs, sinuses, throat or airways (respiratory infection). Therefore, they have a higher risk of getting unwell with COVID-19.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) recommends that children who have medical conditions which mean they have a higher risk should take stricter measures to protect themselves. This includes reducing interaction with other people (social distancing) wherever possible. The government information about social distancing, which covers both adults and children, explains in more detail who might be at higher risk, and the measures they should take.

Some adults and children have conditions which mean they are considered extremely vulnerable. People in these groups are strongly advised to stay at home and avoid face-to-face contact (shielding). Currently this is recommended for 12 weeks, but the length of this period may change.

If you or your baby has a condition that means you are extremely vulnerable, you will have received a letter or text message from the NHS before Monday 30 March 2020 to confirm that you are on the shielded patients list (SPL). If you have not received a letter or a text message and think you or your baby should be on the list, contact your GP or specialist. The government website has more information about what you should do if you need to shield yourself.

My child has ongoing paediatric appointments. Are these likely to be affected?

The current guidance suggests that NHS paediatric services are likely to be affected. It is likely that telephone or video calls will be used as an alternative to clinic appointments wherever possible.

Decisions on any changes will be made by healthcare teams who will consider the needs of individual babies, children and families. If you are unsure, call your clinic for advice.

Please be aware that guidance relating to all healthcare may change quickly. We will monitor information and make changes as soon as we can if they are needed.

If you are unsure of what to do, check online. If you are still unsure, speak to a relevant healthcare professional.

My child is at school/nursery. How will the closures of schools and nurseries affect me?

Schools and nurseries across the UK will be closed from 23 March. Vulnerable children and the children of people who are vital to the response to COVID-19 (key workers) may still be able to attend school.

Information about the closure of schools and nurseries, including how this affects vulnerable children and the children of key workers can be found here.

If you are unsure of how this guidance affects you, discuss this with your child’s school or nursery and with your employer.

The Department for Education (DfE) has a helpline for queries about education for parents and anyone who works in education. You can call 0800 046 8687, Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm. You can also email coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk

If you are affected financially by COVID-19

I have a baby who was born sick or premature and my work or finances are being affected by COVID-19. Is there any support to help me?

The government is outlining plans to help support people who have been affected financially by COVID-19. If you have been affected in this way, you may be able to access help. Citizens Advice have up to date information about this on their website.

Currently, these plans do not include any support specifically for families of sick and premature babies.

If you live in Scotland, you will be able to reclaim travel and food costs while your baby is in neonatal care through the Neonatal Expenses Fund.

If you suspect you or a family member has COVID-19

What should I do if my child or any member of my family has symptoms of COVID-19?

The symptoms of coronavirus include a high temperature and a new continuous cough. If you, your child or anyone that you live with has symptoms of COVID-19, do not visit your GP, a pharmacy or hospital.

Although COVID-19 can be a very serious illness, evidence to date suggests that most children will only have a mild illness and will recover fully. Children with symptoms must not be taken to visit grandparents or any other family members or friends.

Information about COVID-19, including the symptoms and guidance on what to do if you or a family member has the symptoms can be found online. The best advice for you may be different depending on where you are in the UK.

In England

Information about COVID-19, including the symptoms is given on the NHS website.

NHS 111 has an online assessment service, where you can answer some questions to see if you need to call the NHS 111 phone service. The online assessment is suitable for all ages. You can find it here.

In Scotland

Information about symptoms and what action to take can be found on NHS Inform including information on when to call your GP and when to call NHS 24.

In Wales

Information about COVID-19 can be found at NHS Direct Wales 111. This includes an online assessment which can be used for anyone living in Wales who is 6 months or older.

In Northern Ireland

Information about COVID-19, what to do if you or your child has symptoms, and other information can be found here.

Emergency COVID-19 appeal

The effects of COVID-19 are being felt all over the world, and the neonatal community is no exception. Help us keep our services for babies and families open and running.
Read more

Other useful organisations

Wellchild has specific information about COVID-19 for parents and carers of sick children.

Asthma UK has information about COVID-19.

The British Lung Foundation has specific information about coronavirus for people with lung conditions.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) have published a Q&A for pregnant women and their families.